The Los Angeles Chargers and Los Angeles Rams took the field at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Saturday night ready for a fight. While it wasn’t quite at the hype level of another battle taking place in Las Vegas, the ‘Fight for L.A. (as it has been dubbed) did attract its fair share of NFL fans in the city of Los Angeles. For a city that is synonymous with the word “Showtime”, the Chargers made sure to prove they’re ready for the spotlight.
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The Chargers first-team offense and defense looked impressive, to say the least. The Bolts starting units scored three touchdowns and forced two turnovers on the game’s first four drives, en route to a 21-19 preseason win over the cross-town Rams.
Quarterback Philip Rivers and the first-team offense opened the game by driving 75 years downfield in only six plays. The scoring drive was capped by a 45-yard touchdown reception by wide receiver Travis Benjamin.
On the game’s next possession, defensive end Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram proved why they might be one of the most fearsome defensive duos in the NFL this year. Bosa strip-sacked Rams quarterback Jared Goff, and Ingram quickly recovered the ball and raced 76 yards for a touchdown.
Making his preseason debut, Chargers cornerback Jason Verrett intercepted a Goff pass on the Rams’ next offensive possession. Nine plays later, running back Melvin Gordon rushed for a two-yard touchdown. In what seemed liked a manic blink of an eye, the Chargers had secured a 21-0 lead.
Cardale Jones relieved Rivers and made a strong case for being the second string signal caller. He played into the fourth quarter, going 9-of-13 for 74 yards and one interception. Mike Bercovici finished the game at quarterback for the Bolts.
For the Rams, backup quarterback Sean Mannion fared better than his counterpart, Goff. He completed a 38-yard TD pass to Josh Reynolds in the third quarter. Kicker Greg Zuerlein made field goals of 42, 21 and 57 yards, and second unit kicker Travis Coons made a 53-yarder, as well. However, Coons missed potential go-ahead, 33-yard try with 7:50 to go, and the Bolts would hang on for the victory.
And the game ball goes to???
While the Bolts had their share of standouts on Saturday, Philip Rivers took the night. He finished 6-of-6 for 85 yards and a touchdown. He also earned a perfect passer rating of 158.3. In fact, Rivers has led the Chargers to a touchdown on each of the three drives in which has has partaken this preseason.
Running Back Melvin Gordon rushed eight times for 36 yards (4.5 yards per carry).
Wide receiver Keenan Allen led the Chargers with five receptions for 45 yards.
Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram combined for a strip-sack and touchdown return, which was the defensive highlight of the night.
Cornerback Jason Verrett returned to action with an impressive pick of Rams quarterback, Jared Goff.
The Chargers will close the preseason on the road on Thursday, Aug. 31st at 7 p.m. Pacific against the San Francisco 49ers. While the first unit is expected to play a very minimal amount of time, some key positional battles in the second and third units will be on full display before the final cutdown.
– Mike D’Abate is the Managing Editor for cover32/Chargers and covers the Los Angeles Chargers.